A Critique of the Cold War Definition of Labour Values

14 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010 Last revised: 8 Aug 2010

Date Written: August 6, 2010


This paper criticises the generally accepted definition of labour value as first put forward by Nobuo Okishio as seriously faulty and in contradiction with the theory of cost. The shortcomings of this Cold War Definition of Labour Value are so obvious that it is difficult to understand how an error of such importance could survive for half a century and has indeed survived the Soviet Union. We present the correct definition of labour value which is shown to be the only ultimate source of cost. Marginal and average cost are obtained by multiplication of the marginal and average labour values with the wage rate. As prices under perfect competition are equal to marginal cost they are also proportional to marginal labour values. It follows that there is no transformation problem under perfect competition, but under capitalism there is no perfect competition and so capitalistic prices cannot serve as signals for the efficient use of labour.

Keywords: Labour theory of value, Labour value, Theory of cost, Cost of capital services, Marxian economics, Marginal analysis, Transformation problem, Kantorovich, Norm of effectiveness, Cold War

JEL Classification: B14, B24, B51, D24, D46

Suggested Citation

Hagendorf, Klaus, A Critique of the Cold War Definition of Labour Values (August 6, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1650646 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1650646

Klaus Hagendorf (Contact Author)

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